Grounds for divorce
Alimony / Maintenance / Spousal Support
Arbitration / Counseling
Simplified procedure (No fault divorce):
The NC court may grant divorce from bed and board if spouses have been living separate and apart without cohabitation for at least one year. (North Carolina Statutes, Chapter 50, Sections 50-6)
Divorce may also be granted if
- one of the spouses abandons his or her family;
- maliciously turns the other out of doors;
- develops incurable insanity;
- by cruel or barbarous treatment endangers the life of the other;
- offers such indignities to the person of the other as to render his or her condition intolerable and life burdensome;
- becomes an excessive user of alcohol or drugs so as to render the condition of the other spouse intolerable and the life of that spouse burdensome;
- commits adultery.
(North Carolina Statutes, Chapter 50, § 50 7)
What is the difference between fault divorce and no-fault divorce?
Either spouse has to be a resident of the State of North Carolina for at least 6 month before filing a complaint for divorce. (North Carolina Statutes, Chapter 50, §50-8)
As long as there is no strict formula on how to distribute marital property, court in North Carolina must use its discretion to divide property equitably.
Among factors considered by courts are:
- the parties' past relations and conduct;
- the duration of the marriage;
- the source of property;
- the parties' contribution towards its acquisition;
- the needs of the parties;
- the parties' earning ability;
- the cause for divorce;
- the age of the parties;
- the parties' health;
- the parties' life status;
- necessities and circumstances of the parties;
- general principles of fairness;
- any other factor which the court finds to be just and proper.
North Carolina courts encourage settlement agreements by the parties. The property distribution agreement may be entered before, during, or after marriage.
The award of vested and non-vested pension, retirement, or other deferred compensation benefits may be made payable:
- As a lump sum by agreement;
- Over a period of time in fixed amounts by agreement;
- By appropriate domestic relations order as a prorated portion of the benefits made to the designated recipient at the time the party against whom the award is made actually begins to receive the benefits; or
- By awarding a larger portion of other assets to the party not receiving the benefits and a smaller share of other assets to the party entitled to receive the benefits.
(North Carolina Statutes, Chapter 50, §50-20.1)
Courts in North Carolina utilize “the best interest of the child” principle deciding child custody cases.
An order for custody of a minor child may grant joint custody to the parents, exclusive custody to one person, agency, organization, or institution, or grant custody to two or more persons,
agencies, organizations, or institutions. Any order for custody shall include such terms, including visitation, as will best promote the interest and welfare of the child.
If the court finds that domestic violence has occurred, the court shall enter such orders that best protect the children and party who were the victims of domestic violence.
(North Carolina Statutes, Chapter 50, §50 13.2)
An order providing for the custody of a minor child is enforceable by proceedings for civil contempt, and its disobedience may be punished by proceedings for criminal contempt. (North Carolina Statutes, Chapter 50, §50 13.3)
The court in North Carolina may appoint a parenting coordinator at any time during the proceedings of a child custody action involving minor child.
The parties may agree to limit the parenting coordinator's decision making authority to specific issues or areas. (North Carolina Statutes, Chapter 50, §50 91).
Payments ordered for the support of a minor child shall be in such amount as to meet the reasonable needs of the child for health, education, and maintenance, having due regard to the estates, earnings,
conditions, accustomed standard of living of the child and the parties, the child care and homemaker contributions of each party, and other facts of the particular case.
Payments ordered for the support of a minor child shall be on a monthly basis, due and payable on the first day of each month. (North Carolina Statutes, Chapter 50, §50 13.4)
The North Carolina Court, on its own discretion, shall award alimony to the dependent spouse upon a finding that one spouse is a dependent spouse, that the other spouse is a supporting spouse.
The duration of alimony award may be for a specified time or an indefinite term.
If the court finds that the dependent spouse participated in an act of illicit sexual behavior during the marriage and prior to or on the date of separation, the court shall not award alimony. (North Carolina Statutes, Chapter 50, §50 16.3A).
If the court finds that both parties were involved in an act of illicit sexual behavior during the marriage and prior to or on the date of separation, the court must decide the award of alimony on its discretion.
In determining the amount, duration, and manner of payment of alimony, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including:
- The marital misconduct of either of the spouses;
- The relative earnings and earning capacities of the spouses;
- The ages and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the spouses;
- The amount and sources of earned and unearned income of both spouses, including, but not limited to, earnings, dividends, and benefits such as medical, retirement, insurance, social security, or others;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
- The extent to which the earning power, expenses, or financial obligations of a spouse will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child;
- The standard of living of the spouses established during the marriage;
- The relative education of the spouses and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking alimony to find employment to meet his or her reasonable economic needs;
- The relative assets and liabilities of the spouses and the relative debt service requirements of the spouses, including legal obligations of support;
- The property brought to the marriage by either spouse;
- The contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
- The relative needs of the spouses;
- The federal, State, and local tax ramifications of the alimony award;
- Any other factor relating to the economic circumstances of the parties that the court finds to be just and proper;
- The fact that income received by either party was previously considered by the court in determining the value of a marital or divisible asset in an equitable distribution of the parties' marital or divisible property. (North Carolina Statutes, Chapter 50, §50 16.3A)
Alimony without action may be allowed by confession of judgment. (North Carolina Statutes, Chapter 50, §50 16.10)
North Carolina Legislature vigorously encourages arbitration of many issues arising from a marital separation or divorce, such as alimony, child custody and child support. Parties may agree in
writing to submit to arbitration any controversy, except for the divorce itself, arising out of the marital relationship. Before marriage, parties may agree in writing to submit to arbitration any
controversy, except for child support, child custody, or the divorce itself, arising out of the marital relationship. This agreement is valid, enforceable, and irrevocable except with both parties'
consent, without regard to the justifiable character of the controversy and without regard to whether litigation is pending as to the controversy. (North Carolina Statutes, Chapter 50, §50 42)
Usually a single arbitrator is chosen by the parties to arbitrate all matters in dispute.
Both husband and wife can restore their pre-marriage names upon a petition. The courts of the State of North Carolina can restore the petitioner’s name to her birth name, or the surname of a prior
deceased husband; or the surname of a prior living husband if she has children who have that husband's surname. (North Carolina Statutes, Chapter 50, § 50-12)